“The Fourth Revolution.” Paul Kingsnorth’s latest essay is, I believe, out from behind a paywall. As always, he’s worth reading—in this case, on the ways that local, human-scale approaches to big problems get labeled and dismissed. In case you missed the news, we’re looking forward to Paul being the keynote speaker at our 2023 conference.
“What the Body Needs.” Matthew Loftus has a wonderful essay sketching out a healthy approach to medicine and medical technologies. Matthew’s essay complements the talks that Adam Smith and Brian Volck gave at the recent FPR conference on thinking through medicine after COVID: “How do we use technology for good in the realm of health and medicine? We must circumscribe the role of medicine, embrace the limits of embodiment, and learn how to suffer and die well.”
“The Generous Philosopher.” Stephen Muecke traces Bruno Latour’s thought and highlights his focus on the relationships between various actors rather than on some set of “objective” facts: “Latour acknowledged the dangers of our ‘post-truth era’ and responded in his own signature way: our current ecological issues won’t be solved by treating the climate as an objective phenomenon, but instead by focusing on the ways that climatic changes are tied up with politics and the interests of big business.”
“Science Has a Nasty Photoshopping Problem.” Elisabeth Bik details her work tracking down and exposing fraudulent images published in scientific papers. She acknowledges the pressures on scientists to demonstrate their productivity, but her work shows the consequences of deceptive methods: “We need trustworthy science to help us deal with consequential issues like climate change and pandemics. But science needs to be quicker and better at correcting itself.”
“COVID-19 Origins: Investigating a ‘Complex and Grave Situation’ Inside a Wuhan Lab.” Katherine Eban and Jeff Kao detail the process and findings of a new Senate report that indicates a Wuhan Lab is the likely origin of COVID. They also explore the political hurdles to conducting a rigorous investigation and the reasons why the virus’s origins matter.
“The Affirmative Action That Colleges Really Need.” The lede of Richard D. Kahlenberg’s essay sums up what’s at issue in the ongoing Supreme Court case: “The dirty secret of higher education in the United States is that racial preferences for Black, Latino, and Native American college students provide cover for an admissions system that mostly benefits the wealthy. The current framework of race-based preferences—which goes before the Supreme Court on Monday—is broadly unpopular, has been highly vulnerable to legal challenges under federal civil-rights laws, disproportionately helps upper-middle-class students of color, and pits working-class people of different races against one another. Major public and private universities cling to the status quo anyway, because doing so is easier financially than helping demonstrably disadvantaged students.”
“Discerning Truth in an Untruthful World.” Bonnie Kristian and I spoke on this theme last week at John Brown University. My fifteen-minute talk gives a thumbnail sketch of my next book’s narrative arc.
“Moment by Moment, Day by Day.” Aarik Danielsen reviews Sally Thomas’s new novel, Works of Mercy: “A second birth is too small and simple a miracle for this God; we are forever being converted, born again every moment, Kirsty’s life displays. If he is able to make wine from water, then converting her tolerance to true affection, her pious chores into acts of love, is not only possible but by design.”
“US Judge Blocks $2.2bn Penguin Random House Merger.” Dominic Rushe reports on an antitrust ruling that may have broader implications for future antitrust cases: “Unlike most merger fights, which are focused on what consumers pay, this one focused on authors’ earnings. The US government argued that fewer publishing houses being in competition with each other would lead to lower advances for authors across the board, but focused on a small part of the market: bestselling writers who were paid $250,000 or more.”
“Lord Shaftesbury Pronounces on Polarization.” Eric J. Hutchinson draws on an eighteenth-century British philosopher to point out that polarization or factionalism is precisely what we should expect from a society that has violated human scale and limits: “because the natural order—that is, man’s innate impulse toward sociability—cannot be expunged but only corrupted, such a situation is perfect for the creation of factionalism, due to the fact that factionalism is a disordered expression of man’s frustrated desire for community in the context the megastate.”
“Grieving a Childhood Friend.” In a moving essay, Patrick T. Brown parses different kinds of grief that come with different sorts of deaths: “Then there is the grief that comes on like a freight train, approaching from far off with increasing dread to wallop you with unexpected fury: the diagnosis and decline that is met with no familiar scripts or cliches, but uncomprehending emptiness.”
“All That’s Left is This Foundation Stone.” Joshua Hren reviews The Commonwealth, a collection of poetry by Dan Rattelle: “Rattelle, a minor poet with major talent, trusts more in real and indestructible passions—for revisited place and its overlooked graces—than in likes or hits or viral fame or whatever dares tempt us that we cannot name.”
“Time for a New American Dream?” John W. Miller talked with a variety of people in Milwaukee to ask them how they imagine the “American Dream”: “There are signs that younger generations of Americans dream of building community as much as they do of getting rich. Millennials told us they dream of being self-sufficient so that they can support their friends and live in community.”